A number of analysts have opined recently that the Phillies should trade to obtain Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado. Although I agree that the cost would be high, it would be worth it if he agreed to sign a long-term deal first. He's a free agent at the end of the year so only a sign-and-trade deal makes sense.
The price would be high because Machado is arguably the best player in baseball not named Mike Trout. He is a good shortstop currently hitting .335 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs and has a legitimate shot at the triple crown. In a little more than five seasons, he has hit 153 homers.
But the Orioles are in need of a complete rebuild and so will only want prospects, meaning the Phillies will need to pay a substantial price. To get Machado, it will likely take a package of the organization's best prospects, including pitcher Sixto Sanchez, 19; second baseman Scott Kingery, 24; shortstop J.P. Crawford, 23; and pitcher Tom Eshelman, 23. The financial cost will be astronomical as well: probably a 10-year contract for $300 million. Despite all this, the Phillies should do it because:
1) WE CAN WIN THIS YEAR: To quote Dave Cash, "Yes We Can!" The N.L. East Division, which appeared to be one of the strongest in baseball at the start of the season, has collapsed. The two teams thought to be the only contenders, the Nationals and the Mets, are struggling to stay above .500. Now it's a four-way race with the Phillies and the Braves in the hunt. With Machado, WE ARE THE BEST TEAM: "Yes We Are."
2) Without Machado, WE WON'T WIN: The Phillies' lineup desperately needs another power bat to go all the way. Unfortunately, there are no position players in the Phillies' farm system who fit the bill. The team's two recent No. 1 picks, Mickey Moniak and Adam Halesey, are hitting .220 and .279, respectively.
3) We have the money! The Phillies have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Remember, owner John Middleton sold his cigar company for $2.5 billion, and, thankfully, appears willing to spend it.
4) In reality, the Phillies aren't giving up that much. With Machado, the Phils won't miss Crawford at shortstop, and I think Eshelman is, at best, a back-end of the rotation starter. Kingery will be a nice player, but he is clearly not someone who can carry a team and he has no clear position on the current Phillies roster. The big loss could turn out to be Sanchez, who is young and has worlds of potential. But the key word is potential. Many prospects have plenty of potential and dominate in the minors, but when they get up to the big leagues turn out to be very pedestrian.
5) Machado will turn 26 years old in July, so the Phillies are not mortgaging the future. He will be around for a decade during which he and this strong, young nucleus will ensure that the Phillies will be contenders.